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‘Indeed!’ said Kate.
‘By George!’ replied the keeper, shaking his head so
emphatically that he was obliged to frown to keep his hat on. ‘I
never come across such a vagabond, and my mate says the same.
Broke his poor wife’s heart, turned his daughters out of doors,
drove his sons into the streets; it was a blessing he went mad at
last, through evil tempers, and covetousness, and selfishness, and
guzzling, and drinking, or he’d have drove many others so. Hope
for him, an old rip! There isn’t too much hope going’ but I’ll bet a
crown that what there is, is saved for more deserving chaps than
With which confession of his faith, the keeper shook his head
again, as much as to say that nothing short of this would do, if
things were to go on at all; and touching his hat sulkily--not that
he was in an ill humour, but that his subject ruffled him--
descended the ladder, and took it away.
During this conversation, Mrs Nickleby had regarded the man
with a severe and steadfast look. She now heaved a profound sigh,
and pursing up her lips, shook her head in a slow and doubtful
‘Poor creature!’ said Kate.
‘Ah! poor indeed!’ rejoined Mrs Nickleby. ‘It’s shameful that
such things should be allowed. Shameful!’
‘How can they be helped, mama?’ said Kate, mournfully. ‘The
infirmities of nature--’
‘Nature!’ said Mrs Nickleby. ‘What! Do you suppose this poor
gentleman is out of his mind?’
‘Can anybody who sees him entertain any other opinion,